Two recent overnight trips took me to two cool cities. A blog for each to give them their due and to make reading easy for you
First – Rouen. An important medieval city. Famous for Joan of Arc. And famous to many for the many paintings of the cathedral by Claude Monet.
We stayed in The Hotel de la Cathedrale in the old city. Half timbered. (Garden to the left.) Creaky slippery leaning stairs. Reeks of old world charm. (Oh. Well. This is the old world after all!.) I was putting the building into the late 1490s up to 1550s. Sometimes you just shouldn’t ask. 17th century. Ok. Yes. That is old for America. But I liked my dream of 1510…
Cobblestones. I thought I’d been walking on them in various places in Paris. Not the real ones I guess. Besides needing strong soles on your shoes, you need strong ankles. Mine are in fairly good shape. (Makes me think of Jane Austen and the days of ‘shapely ankles’). But they ached a bit on that trip.
First day was the medieval city – cathedral and old market. Second day the Musee des Beaux Arts for the impressionist exhibition. My friend went on to the ceramics museum which she found to be spectacular. I had just gone to two ceramics shows in Paris and so opted for a walk to the Seine (oh my so many river cruise boats – the well-known Viking Line had 2 or 3 docked – and several more. This explained the many people touring the city in groups. (After coming back to Paris and the floods, I wonder what these folks did when a few days later those boats couldn’t sail under the bridges… refunds? Buses?)
As for the cathedral – it is not on my list of favorite cathedrals. Might have inspired Monet but for me it was haphazard. Didn’t like the energy. And this reaction was a bit odd – I came here in 2008 and thought I had liked it. Perhaps first impression – I saw it before Reims and Amiens and some others… Or maybe I was influenced by the Joan of Arc story… although her hearings took place in the abbey of Saint Ouen which I found beautiful. And in the old market area there is a relatively new church, supposedly on the place where Joan was burned at the stake. I didn’t like that new church much either.
Several strikes against Rouen… But I did enjoy the city and the many half-timber houses, the medieval government buildings and, as I said, Saint Ouen.
I also thank Rouen for inspiring me to read more about Joan. I read The Maid, a Novel of Joan of Arc by Kimberly Cutter. The interesting thing is there are extensive records of Joan’s trial written at the time by several different scribes. You can actually buy the transcript on Kindle. Cutter based her novel on this information so it gives a fairly accurate depiction of her life.
And it raises so many questions – for me, it’s a question that Cutter has Joan consider – how can a loving God send her off to kill the terrible English….. No answer. Unless I drag out a Ouija board and that’s not likely and I am not sure I would trust that answer anyway.